Television Folklore: Little Red Riding Hood

One of the more recent television series to utilize folk tales as a vehicle for the plotline is the ABC series Once Upon a Time that first aired in 2011. It brings in a variety of fairytale and folktale characters in an interesting story where fantasy characters are somehow transported into the real world and how the interact with normal society. Its main characters are often from more recent fairy tales, such as the ones that the Disney corporation has remade, but there are some more obscure and odd characters of folk tales that do find their way into some episodes.

Another interesting reference I wanted to touch on here was the character of Little Red Riding Hood as she appears in the series. In season 2 episode seven, the show exposes an interesting element of Red Riding Hood that is vastly different from the original folk tale. The original story presents Red Riding Hood as an innocent girl that is hunted by a malicious wolf. Yet, in the episode, Ruby, she has become the wolf. The series has the character actually a shape-shifting werewolf. In the episode, the townspeople find her in wolf form hiding from their wrath. She is almost killed for killing a man before she is saved by other townspeople and it is revealed that one of the town’s leaders killed the man and framed Ruby to try to make it look like a wolf.

Overall, this episode is interesting because it makes the character of the folk tale into the very creature that hunted her. It may be a signal that the wolf did eventually get Little Red Riding Hood at the end of the tale, even though he does not in most versions. It is an interesting interjection that combines innocence with power, making Red Riding Hood a more distinctive character than simply a little, innocent girl without any more depth to her character.

Source: “Child of the Moon.” Once Upon A Time. ABC. 2011.